Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making

I love a cookbook with a story. And I love a cookbook with good pictures. Even better is a cookbook that has both. What's more, Alana Chernila's sensibilities about food speak to my own. Food doesn't have to be expensive to be delicious, and food made from scratch with love is almost always vastly superior to the store-bought kind.

I stumbled across Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making through another blog I read, and instantly put it on my "books to buy" list. (They're almost all cookbooks. The rest I try to check out from the library.) My little brother gave it to me for Christmas, and I immediately read the entire thing from cover to cover.

Homemade Pantry contains a lot of recipes I have down pat, or similar to those in other cookbooks I own. And I will have to tweak many of the recipes because they call for wheat flour. But that's not the point. The point is the approach to cooking, how food relates to everyday life in so many ways, how it can nourish our bodies and relationships with each other. As an added bonus, there are plenty of recipes I have tabbed that don't require any modification, like the oven baked potato chips that have my mouth watering just thinking about them.  Plus, Chernila walks you through difficult spots (she calls them "tense moments") that might come up in cooking the recipes, and gives tips on what to do with scraps you might otherwise send to the landfill. She knows nobody really lives that perfect at-home life so many bloggers portray, so she also tells you how long each dish keeps in the fridge and freezer for those nights when you wish dinner would make itself.

The entire book is infused with Chernila's family memories as they relate to food and life in general. Not only do I see myself cooking from this cookbook for years to come, I see myself re-reading the stories too.

Gluten-Free Flour Tortillas

I'm sick and tired of the gluten-free "flour tortillas" I buy at the supermarket. They're strange, pasty things that don't brown. They taste awful, and worst of all, they're so brittle I can't bend them at all without breaking them. What's the point of a tortilla you can't bend?

These tortillas, on the other hand, taste pretty darn good. When they're warm, you can actually roll them all the way up for burritos, enchiladas, whatever you like. And they even get those little brown spots the way tortillas are supposed to. A word of warning, though - they don't keep. Make right beforehand if you want them to be flexible. Otherwise they dry out and get almost as brittle as the grocery store ones.

This recipe is for 8 tortillas, but you could easily double it.

  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 3/4 cup sorghum flour
  • 3/4 cup potato starch
  • 1 tablespoon psyllium husks
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cups warm water, plus an extra 1/4 cup
  • Rice flour or other gluten-free flour, for dusting
Combine the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter and shortening using a pastry cutter until the fat is broken down into pea-sized lumps and is well incorporated into the flours. Slowly add 3/4 cups water, mixing as you go. Add the remaining 1/4 cup a tablespoon at a time if you need it. The dough should look wet and sticky but not slimy. Cover and let sit about ten minutes.

Using the rice flour, flour a large flat surface. (You can use your counter but I use an old tea towel.) Shape the dough into 8 balls, then cover and let stand about five minutes.

Working on your floured surface, shape the balls into flat discs, using your fingers or a rolling pin. work from the center outward, and stop when the disc is about eight inches in diameter and no thinner than 1/16". 

Heat an ungreased skillet over medium heat, then fry the tortillas about a minute on each side, or until they begin to puff up a little and get little golden spots on them.

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